Sunflowers are a group of beautiful and useful plant species spanning the America’s. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but they make for a great crop as the seeds can be eaten by humans or other animals.
Sunflowers grow in temperate regions and were first grown agriculturally in Mexico and the Southern United States. In the 16th century, the first sunflower seeds were brought back to Europe where they have since become a major crop. Sunflowers are typically planted in the summer or early fall, but timing depends on the specific species and the location.
The top sunflower growing countries in the world are the Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China, and Romania. While the United States is not one of the top producing countries of Sunflower Seeds, we use still U.S. grown sunflower seeds in our 5 Seed Butter. Because of their relatively deep root system, sunflower is a hardy crop that is drought resistant and can do well even in arid areas.
Sunflowers are normally planted in 15 to 40 inch rows with about 30,000 seeds planted per acre. However, many of these seeds won’t make it to a full-grown sunflower. Sunflower seeds are planted much like corn with specialized equipment.
Sunflowers are harvested using a combine that’s been adapted to separate the seeds from the sunflower head and straw. Once the seeds are harvested, they are dried and run through sifting tables to remove any rocks or excess dirt. The seeds can then be used for a variety of different applications including cooking oil, animal feed, seed butter, or the plain seeds we see in grocery stores.